March 15th, 2010

American Christian

Talk_Politics - Where it's always Creationism week!

Hello, my fellow intelligentsia,

I have a favor to ask. I'm trying to come up with a list of the 10 most influential books on creationism. I'm trying to get a feel of the entire creationist movement from the source, so I'm only looking for pro-creationist books.

This is for a project I'm working on. Last November, Ray Comfort gave out copies of Darwin's 'Origin of Species' on about 100 college campuses. He printed his own books - they prefaced Darwin's text with a 50-page introduction on creationism. In retaliation, I wrote a 20-page essay that ripped through his 50-page introduction. The essay was put on the download site one week before Comfort's give away, and I sent press releases to the student newspapers at America's top 100 schools. The idea was that the newspapers could include a link to my paper as they reported on Comfort's showy book give away, and students would have a direct reference available to debunk the book they just received that went page by page.

The response to my paper was pretty minimal, but then so was the response to Comfort's give-away. But since the few people who did read my paper told me that they really liked it, I'm trying to sustain my ego trip and expand it into a book. Hence, I need to understand the nuances of creationism from a creationist's point of view, not just a debunker's POV.

My possible list so far:
Darwin's Black Box - Michael J Behe
Of Pandas and People
Darwin on Trial - Phillip E Johnson

Thanks for the help, folks!
Godzilla, default

A question for Creationists:

Presuming that this theory, which itself is no different than the same false ideas from the mid-19th Century (i.e. before anyone had ever even heard of Tyrannosaurus rex let alone the truly amazing prehistoric beasties) is valid, explain to me how it accounts for these phenomena:

1) The substrates that influence language families like the Sino-Tibetan and the Indo-European. Presuming that Creationist anthropology still adheres to the whole Shem-Ham-Japheth thing, it's fair to ask that if Japheth was the father of the Indo-Europeans, who then was the father of the Basques and Aquitainians and Picts?

2) Where did the Indians come from? Or Australian Aborigines? The Bible mentions nowhere in it the existence of either America (defined as Alaska-to-Tierra del Fuego) or Australasia/Oceania. So how can an honest, God-fearing Creationist accept these devil continents? And for that matter, how did in 6,000 years the 500 languages of Australia develop completely unique characteristics akin to a continental Sprachbund where Indigenous American languages are diverse enough to be as far apart as English is from Sora. And of course since the Bible nowhere mentions America, and only that which God mentions in the Bible is important to Creationists.......

3) What would an ecosystem with a mixture of mammalian megafauna (i.e. dire wolves, marsupial lions, ground sloths, and so on) and dinosaurian megafauna (tyrannosaurs, moas, dodos, carcharodontosaurs) and aquatic megafauna (pliosaurs and giant lamniforms) look like? How would it even function? How would any number of plants support populations of Amphicoelias fragilimis, woolly mammoths, ground sloths, bison, Triceratops horridus, and pronghorns all at the same time?

4) Given that in historical time the early Dutch saw the Bantu moving from the South at the same time as they arrived, how, then was the entirety of the Earth peopled in a mere 6,000 years? We're talking about a planet with entire swathes of it uninhabitable and where we are expected to believe that people would have willingly set sail across the Atlantic and Pacific (because there are no plate tectonics in Creationist theory) with outrigger canoes in a sea full of giant sea beasties that would willingly have swallowed everything imaginable.

If there are to be large-scale movements pushing this hoary old nonsense on our children & thereby handicapping our future, the least these political movements could do is explain these inconsistencies in their own mythology.

What is wrong with schools? What would you add to this list?

Before declaring how to "fix" schools it would help if we could agree what was wrong with them. (I don't think we can agree, to be honest, but could we at least get a full list?) Too often, in public forums, we hear "the solution" for our schools from politicians without stopping to discuss what the problem was.  Here are some of the charges made against US public schools:Collapse )What would you add to this list?

I don't want to debate the points on the list, just get a very full list of what people think the problems with public schools are if any.
I will add the things you post to the list. Later I'm going to group these problems together by identifying common themes... but, for the time being, I just want a big list of problems! After saying all of this-- I do think it is important to keep some perspective. I went to a public school and received and excellent education. There are public schools that work.

UPDATE: I'm going to stop when I reach 100, that should be enough to start grouping these problems in my next post.

(no subject)

I was going to post about something I heard on the radio last night, but I forgot to look it up when I got home and now I can't remember what it was. So you get this instead.

Climate Change Likely Caused Polar Bear to Evolve Quickly

The genetic traces they found in the bear's 110,000- to 130,000-year-old jawbone reveal that the species likely split from brown bears (U. arctos) just 150,000 years ago, at a time when specializing in arctic living quickly became an advantage rather than a liability.

The point here is that animals can adapt fairly rapidly to climate change and that animal "features" aren't static in the first place, so trying to preserve the environment the way it is now is stupid.

Weekly Topic

Hi everybody! It's time to announce the Topic of the Week (15.03 / 21.03).

And the winner is...

Education, science & space

Let's simply call it Science Week.

Time to step back from one of the most controversial, yet interesting topics. Even though it could often get away from strictly talking politics, Education & Science could become an even more interesting subject, so here are some hints of what we might be talking about.

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On a side note, i now invite you to have a look at TP's Open Thread and, if you feel like it, tell us what you think about the comm and what could be improved about it. We'd be glad to have some feedback there.
Uncle Sam loves the GOP

Tax or cut spending

We recently discussed the soda pop taxed. The two major pros of this tax would be:

1)     Additional revenue to pay for the $1.2 trillion health-care overhaul (over ten years)

2)     Reduce the obesity rate in America.

My solution would solve both problems. Cut the Food Stamps program (now called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP) by 10% across the board. Additional cuts for individuals and families who are on SNAP and obese (30 BMI or greater) would be made to encourage them to lose weight.

This would be a modest cut on an individual level. The average monthly benefit was about $101 per person and about $227 per household in FY 2008. That would only be $10.10 per person and $22.70 per family. In other words the cost of two to five 24-packs of name brand soda pop.

The soda pop tax is estimated to create $24 Billion over the next 4 years. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is expecting to top $60 Billion this year.  The 10% cut across the board would be the same $24 Billion the soda tax would create. Then we reduce the amount of food assistance received by individuals who’s BMI is greater than 30 would generate additional savings.

Those on SNAP have a higher BMI (See graph) than those who are not. Merely reducing sugar intake through soda will not reduce Obesity. Calorie reduction is what will reduce Obesity. Since there are more than 32 million people on SNAP this would effectively reduce their food consumption, i.e. calories, of 32 million people by 10%. More so for the individuals who are on SNAP and significantly obese. - graph

A scientific study finds that SNAP participation may actually be a risk factor for obesity. The researchers also found that BMI rose higher the longer participants received the stamps.

Whether or not health care passes, we would still save $6 Billion a year and encourage healthy behavior.

Rendering unto Caesar: Beware the Ides of March

One of our students introduced the quote from Shakespeare into her classrooms. She prompted discussion of who Julius Caesar was and why he was assassinated on this day. The most fascinating thing she noticed was how few of the students knew the name of the Roman despot. She commented to one class that if you don't know Caesar, then you can't give him his due. She said that one of the biggest problems with Christianity is that it renders unto Caesar that which belongs to Jesus, and vice versa.

My favorite theory about the assassination of Caesar is that he was worth more dead than alive. With him posited in Heaven, he could continue to look down upon his troops. They always performed at their best when they knew he was watching.

What's your spin on the death of the Roman champion of theft, murder and destruction? (And I don't mean B16, either.)
Godzilla, default

Rules for Thee and not for me:

Evidently while the rule is "Don't Ask Don't Tell" this is one case among many where the Right Wing honors rules in the breach as opposed to the observance. It's perfectly kosher for the police to blab about somebody's record and ensure she's fired when she abided by military segregation. Because expecting those who bray loudest like the jackasses they are to believe in enforcing rules when *they* have to abide by them is a lost cause. What has happened to this woman, who abided by military rules and regulations is both shameful, will be upheld as many other shameful incidents have been, and I expect this post will receive an abundance of comments defending the indefensible when GLBTQ are victims.

Disparities in sentences.

In 2005 the Supreme Court case United States v. Booker struck down the provision of the sentencing statute that required judges to impose a sentence within the Federal Guidelines range. So, what impact has the removal of mandatory guidelines had on sentencing?

For years, legal experts have argued over the disparity in sentencing between black and white men. The commission found that the difference peaked in 1999 with blacks receiving 14 percent longer sentences. By 2002, however, the commission found no statistical difference.
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